Dems Call for Hearing on U.S. Broadcasting Official

Three congressional Democrats asked President Bush on Wednesday to dismiss the head of the agency that oversees government broadcasts, who is accused of misusing government money, overbilling for his time and hiring a friend as a consultant.

A summary of a report by the State Department's inspector general released Tuesday said Kenneth Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other U.S. government broadcasting abroad.

Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, California Democrats, and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said in a statement they were outraged by what has emerged from the investigation that they requested last year.

They said in a letter to Bush the results of the investigation left no doubt that Tomlinson violated public trust and Bush's own ethical standards.

"We urge you to immediately remove Mr. Tomlinson from his position and to take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors," they wrote.

Berman and Lantos asked the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde, R-Ill., to hold hearings on Tomlinson. Dodd asked the same of Richard Lugar, R-Ill., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, meanwhile, said selected parts of a report by the department's inspector general had been released "to try to color people's views."

"We have seen this game before," McCormack said.

Tomlinson remains a member of the broadcasting board, the spokesman said. "If there are any actions that need to be taken as a result of the inspector general's report, of course we are going to take them," he said.